Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So a day after the last post, the rope was replaced at the Medora weather station. Keep in mind that this has been missing for a few weeks. Coincidence? I think not. Just doing our public service for Medora!

(today was fair with a little wind)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Medora, Medora, by the heavens blest?

Medora has been our home for the last three months, and we've come to discover that tourist towns are meant to be visited, not lived in. As employees, we live in the same dorm, eat at the same three places, work together and generally occupy the 4x6 grid of blocks that make up this town. We all know each other just a little too well, nothing goes unnoticed. Not even our blogs are a secret connection to the outside world, they are googleable and plenty of people in town read them (hey guys!).

This town does have it's charm though, it's charm and it's quirks and it's weird little moments that may or not be noticed by the visitor just passing through. Abby and I needed to be reminded of the good, share the bad, and embrace the weird, so here are a few random things about this town:

1. There has been a thief in town for quite some time.

2. Did you know that there is an oil boom in North Dakota right now? Well there is, and all the hotels are filled with oil workers. If you plan on driving through North Dakota on your way to somewhere else, or you plan to vacation here, you better call way ahead and make reservations, or you will not find a hotel with open rooms. Weird? yes.

3. We have 3 hotels in town, the Rough Riders (which is very very nice) the Badlands, which is your average motel. And then there is the Bunkhouse. It looks like a bunch of portable class rooms split up into 8 rooms each. They were built for the last oil boom, and well...

4. Medora has a queen. her name is Shelia. Whenever she comes to the Musical they announce that the queen of Medora is there and stands and does a cute little wave.

5. Our mayor wears knee high boots, a white button up shirt, and a trench coat for everyday life. Also his hair is epic. This photo is from the 4th of july parade, but it's not too far off from regular life.

6. Motorcyclists love Medora. Mostly really old ones with trike things.

7. There is a train that drives around the streets of Medora and gives tours. It's called "lil smokey" and quite fittingly, it smokes terribly the majority of the time. It quite popular too. But really, a train in the middle of the street? It doesn't help with the tourists inability to drive.

8. If you see the police pulled over talking to someone, there is no way of discerning if they are just chatting or if there is something going down. There are 3 cops in town and everyone knows all of them.

9. The boys dorm used to be a stable, and most of them don't have windows in their tiny rooms.

10. During the day, the town is a bustling hub of activity. Around 8:00, everything shuts down, most people go up to the musical and it becomes somewhat akin to a ghost town.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On the street: Motorcycle Mutt

What does one do when one wants to take their dog with them on vacation but they also want to drive their motorcycle?

This man knows the answer!

It's a little difficult to see in the photo, but there a motorcycle pulling a trailer with a dog seat/enclosure made of plywood screwed to the top. It appears to a chocolate lab, and it's just sitting in it's little compartment, enjoying the breeze!

close up:

Gotta love Medora. In all its weird glory.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

birthday extravaganza!

July 11th was my 21st birthday, and we celebrated Medora style.

Abby, Sarah, Mary and I all had off of work, although Sarah still had to be in the magic show, since she is the lovely assistant after all. Abby, Mary and I went to watch her at the Comedy Corner, since none of us had ever been. It was quite the experience. Sarah was only in one illusion for the show we went to, but she did a fantastic job climbing out of that magic box! We'll have to do a post about Comedy corner on NDICA because it would take too long to explain the joy that comedy corner is in this post.

While waiting for Sarah to finish her second magic show of the day, we shopped around town, got some ice cream and set up an appointment for Todd's Old Time Photo's. It was my 21st, so, naturally, we had to be saloon girls. It was hilarious, Todd is crazy.

At one point during the musical every night, Buffalo Dale announces birthdays and tour groups and like who are in the audience. We thought that would be an entertaining moment, and we have connections with Marilyn, the piano player and leader of the Coal Diggers and her husband, who happens to be Theodore Roosevelt, so kindly asked Dale to announce my birthday. It was a very full show that night, but they very rarely sell the front row, so we sat there. Marilyn came out before the show started to get set up, and when she saw that were sitting right by the band, she handed me a gift from on stage, which was pretty awesome. We waited for the announcements, but as Marilyn later told me, they claimed it wasn't a milestone so they wouldn't announce it. Since when is 21 not a milestone? Lame. We stayed though intermission, and it's always fun to watch the show from the front row, so even though they wouldn't announce my birthday, it was still pretty great. However, I later learned that David, aka Teddy Roosevelt, didn't know we left at intermission, and during the bows at the end when they introduced him he shouted "Happy Birthday Emily!" I'm so sad I wasn't there the hear it, but thanks anyway David! It made my day when i found out.

After intermission we drove to the Applebee's in Dickenson because there is no where in town that is open that late that people under 21 can go to. Then we watched some episodes of 21 Jumpstreet because who doesn't love 21 Jumpstreet?

The next day Abby, Sarah, and I all had off and we decided to make the 2 hour drive to Bismarck to do some shopping at get out of Medora for a while. We went to Goodwill and TJ Maxx. Living it up! We also got Qdoba, which may be the first time we've had food that isn't deep fried all summer.

That didn't last long though, because Mary, Abby, Zach and I decided to use our one free Pitchfork Fondue ticket that night. It's literally steak on a pitchfork deep fried in a 55 gallon drum full of oil. And fruit, vegetables, cole slaw, potatoes, garlic bread and beans. It started raining, but we got a sweet rainbow out of the deal. More on that experience later, it too deserves it's own post.

yup. so pretty much the best birthday ever.

Friday, July 9, 2010

the badlands, the blue skies.

Just a reminder, this is where we live.

horses run wild,

bison control the road,

the views are epic.
and we love it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th fireworks

Medora knows how to do the Fourth of July. It's a weekend full of festivities, parades, shootouts, and of course, the musical. The most impressive of these of these was the fireworks. I've seen quite a few firework shows in my life, and these take the cake by far.

The fireworks start around 11:15, after everyone has had a chance to get down from the amphitheater hill after the musical, and they are shot off from behind the main office, which backs up to the buttes on the edge of town. Sheila Schafer's (the queen of Medora) house is directly across the street from the office, and all the employees watch the show from her front lawn. They were directly above us and you could feel them through your body reverberating off the cliffs.

you can see the main office and the butte in the background, they were so close!

Sheila also handed out free ice cream bars, which makes it just that much better. After the fireworks ended and every one had cheered for them, the crowd began shouting "Thank you Shelia" in unison. What a nice bonding moment for the TRMF employees and friends!

grand finale!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the little missouri: an adventure

Well, friends, we are slowly but surely beginning to experience the things you do when you live in North Dakota.

Apparently one of them is go swimming in the Little Missouri river. This is the last thing you would think of doing when you see the little missouri, as it is probably one of the muddiest rivers on record. And then our friends told us they were going to take us to the spot with the best mud pits. how fun!

It is truly beautiful, however, and it was a perfect day with blue skies and sunshine, inspiring a round or two of "the badlands, the blue skies, the shining west" which we learned in our excessive Medora Musical viewings.

We drove to the swimming location first on a paved road out past the Bully Pulpit Golf Course, then on a gravel road which then turned into a 2 track with 2 foot tall weeds ending up in a field in the middle of nowhere.

The river was quite flooded from all the rainstorms we've been getting lately, so much so that the mud pits were covered. Oh darn. It's a rocky river, full of excellent skipping stones and shale as well as an object which was probably a half rotted bone of some wild animal. Good times in the badlands!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Medora tour, part one: Marquis de Mores

The Marquis de Mores is the french aristocrat who founded this lovely town, but more importantly, it is the name of the town's favorite ice cream parlor and bake shop.

The Marquis underwent some renovations the beginning of the
summer, resulting in some early tourists who were saddened to find their favorite ice cream parlor closed. A fresh coat of bright red paint was applied, new freezers were installed and the heart shaped chairs and the giant portraits of The Marquis and his lovely bride Medora
welcome you as you enter.

When it finally opened for the season, employees and tourists alike flocked to get a scoop of their favorite flavor of Medora-made ice cream. I've heard that the Pecan Praline is a favorite, but I couldn't get past this one:

Yes, there is a flavor called Musical Fruit. Is this a jab at the male Burning Hills Singers? is it secretly bean flavored ice cream? or is it really just some really tasty purple ice cream with giant chunks of frozen berries?

If you come visit us we'll buy some for you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the U.S. Postal Service.

Mail us something. anything, and we will send you something awesome and probably Medora themed in return.

Abby Christensen and or Emily Van Hoff

P.O. Box 443

Medora, ND 58645.

Monday, June 7, 2010

wild, wild horses (couldn't drag me away.)

Last Wednesday we finally toured through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park with our friend Mary. The weather was great and it was real sunny. There is a 36 mile loop through the south unit, taking you past the Scoria Point Overlook, Wind Canyon, and the Burning Coal Vein, and countless prairie dog towns. Now there are tons of hikes we want to explore out there.

The photo credit for this first one goes to Mary Egstad. Isn't it butte-iful?

We kept an animal count so we could keep track of how many awesome wild animals we spotted. Here goes:
-white tail deer: 6
-rattlesnakes: 1 (dead and smashed)
-wild horses: 7 (3 of which were colts) and 1 herd
-buffalo: 6 and 2 herds
-prairie dogs: millions.

We had gotten about halfway through the park before we saw any wild horses and Emily was doubting that they even existed. Finally we rounded a corner and on the right side of the road there were 4 horses and 3 little colts just hanging out and eating and on the left there were 3 big buffalo eating grass and rolling in the dirt. We slowly and quietly got out of the car and sneaked toward the horses but they just looked at us and kept eating (but we made sure to keep the car between us and the buffalo.) It was a total succeed.

But by the time we were on our way out of the park, it was starting to cloud over and the sky was looking a little menacing.

Bad news to end the day: The musical was supposed to open that night. It got rained out and we were drenched. The west did not kick up it's heels on Wednesday June 2.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

of cemeteries and mules.

Medora has a cemetery.

It’s up a winding and very, very steep hill near the site of the musical (which starts on Wednesday, get excited!). We visited it after work on Thursday night, it has a lovely view and seemingly random placement of graves.

I guess it’s self-explanatory.

Killed in an argument on June 26, 1883, Marquis deMores had purchased land for his cattle, then closed old hunting trails. A dispute ensued. The Marquis was tried and acquitted 3 times. Many years later a man confessed to the killing. His identity has never been disclosed due to his family’s wishes.

And this is the entire town of Medora, as viewed at night from the butte.

Also, Abby has a funny work story:

Yesterday at work in the call center I received what has been recorded as the strangest call of this season. I answered and the person on the other end of the line said that they needed to rent a camp site, but unfortunately our campground system was down. He claimed loudly that he couldn't hear me and passed me off to someone else in the group. This second person told me that they were looking for a place to keep their 14 mules and 4 wagons, as they were following Custer's trail and they needed to stop here because this is the way he went. Fortunately, he told me, they just needed a place to keep them because they had their own feed and a fence to put up around them. After my manager and the rest of the call center crew were baffled, we decided to transfer them to the boarding stables where hopefully they could help them better. I realized afterward that I should have said something along the lines of "Well fortunately if you're following Custer's trail, you won't need reservations for your return trip."

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Well, we made it safe and sound to the lovely little town of Medora, ND. But not without a few stops along the way. Abby drove out to ND from Idaho with her mom on Wednesday and Thursday, and then picked Emily up from the airport in Bismarck on Friday afternoon. On the way back to Abby’s grandma’s, we stopped in to see Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow:

She’s a beauty.

Our weekend was full of movies, 21 jumpstreet, good food and sleeping. On Sunday afternoon we took a little trip down the Enchanted Highway, and let me tell you, those 32 miles were full of enchantment. And sunshine and pictures and wide open plains. Visit our other blog,
Here's a teaser to get you excited:

We checked into Medora around 3 in the afternoon, filled out some paperwork, took a van tour of the town in the pouring rain, and got our room assignment. During check in, some of the returners were talking about a kid from last who was described as follows: “you remember him, he worked in the stable and it was thing to wear his pants inside his boots even though everyone told him not to.” Uhhh… you’re not supposed to wear your pants inside your boots? I think we might not be in Chicago anymore.
Our room is a quaint little cinderblock rectangle right across the hall from the bathroom. It has bunk beds, closets with doors, 2 end tables, a desk and a chair and a sink with a mirror and medicine cabinet. It’s a pretty cute little room.:

Tuesday we both started working.

(emily) I started in the Rough Rider Gift Shop/Corner Corral at 9 in the morning. We sell fancy food things and dishes and garden stuff and western statues and clocks and expensive clothes and jewelry. And a lot of papyrus. There is so much bad typography in that place. It’s a pretty big store, one that requires a map to know where all the lights are that need to be turned on and off. It was a slow day. It was cold and rainy and windy and it’s not quite the start of the Medora season yet, so not many tourists are around. It should pick up in the next week or so.

(abby) I had training all day and it was one of the more overwhelming experiences in my life. It looks like we have to learn 3 separate booking and ticketing systems for working in the call center and hotel front desk. Basically for my job I need to know everything about Medora, no pressure. It seems like it could be fun, aside from the headset and basement cubicle. Fortunately, everyone I'm working with is really nice and I really like the events I will be promoting!

It is finally warming up and the sun is coming out, so we should be able to check out the National Park soon. It’s a beautiful place.